Hibs fan Baillie nets £1,875 for Parkinson's UK

A Hibs fan has managed to raise a significant sum of money by doing a mammoth walk in honour of his mum.

Baillie Smith, 20, from Ellieburn, Livingston, has amassed just under £2,000 after walking 13 miles from his home to Easter Road - the stadium of his beloved Hibs.

His mother, Pauline Hannigan, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the end of last year at the age of 54.

About 12,400 people in Scotland have Parkinson’s - which is around one in every 375 adults. Parkinson’s is a brain condition that happens when the brain cells that make dopamine start to die.

Everyone is different, but there are over 40 recognised symptoms that affect every aspect of daily life.

Baillie decided that he wanted to do something to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK. Although the charity had to defer its popular Walk for Parkinson’s series because of the pandemic, the charity is encouraging supporters to join in a socially distanced walk in your area, or take part virtually.

Money raised by Walk for Parkinson’s will help transform the way the charity provides information and support to people with Parkinson’s, and the people in their lives.

This year, thanks to the Frank and Evelyn Brake Connect Fund, sponsorship will be matched pound for pound, doubling the impact for people affected by Parkinson’s.

Baillie set a fundraising goal of £500 but was gobsmacked when he tripled that - raising a total of £1875.

And Hibs striker, Christian Doidge, sent him a video message to congratulate him on his achievement - and the club awarded him a jersey complete with player signatures.

Baillie and his mum.

Baillie hopes the funds he raised will help one day find a cure for Parkinson’s.

He said: "My mum got diagnosed with Parkinson's last December and it came on pretty quickly.

"She took a fall in the house and alarm bells started ringing. I hadn't really heard much of the condition before but once my mum got diagnosed I started to look into it and I decided I wanted to do something to raise money and awareness.

"At first I struggled to come to terms with it but in the months that followed it got easier.

"Sometimes, Parkinson's doesn't get as much media attention as other conditions do and I thought something like that to raise money would be nice, especially when it's someone close to me.

"So I took it upon myself and planned the walk a month before.

"At first she was asking why I couldn't just give her the money so she could go on holiday!

"I'm a big Hibs fan and I live in Livingston which is around a 45 minute car journey to Easter Road.

"I told my friends about the walk and, surprisingly, they didn't give it any second thoughts and were up for it!

"It took us 7 hours and 15 minutes with a couple of breaks in between.

"Honestly, it was a really nice day out and we got to walk along the canal and cars beeped their horns at us.

Baillie at the end of his walk.

"I've raised £1,875 which is the same number as the year Hibs were formed but it genuinely wasn't even meant!

"On the day of the walk the word got out and donations started flooding in. I was sitting at around £1,865 and on the Thursday after it one of my mum's pals stuck £20 in and it hit that milestone.

"One of the things I found the hardest was that there is no cure and my mum's condition will get worse over time so I hope it helps find a cure."

Hibs star and Wales international Christian Doidge congratulated Baillie on his achievement.

He said: "Hi Baillie, just a quick message to say a massive well done on what you've managed to do.

"Obviously very sad to hear about your mum but doing that walk from Livingston to Easter Road is a great achievement and to raise that money is unreal.

"Hopefully we’ll see you soon at Easter Road!"

Marion Pirrie, Regional Fundraiser for East of Scotland, said: “Baillie set himself a real challenge by planning a 13 mile walk to Easter Road from his home in Livingston and we’re absolutely bowled over by the effort he put in.

“There are more than 300 people with Parkinson’s in West Lothian and over 900 people in the City of Edinburgh living with the condition and these are difficult times for our community. Thanks to the amazing support of people like Baillie, we’re adapting by boosting our helpline capacity, providing tailored online exercise classes and making sure people who normally receive face-to-face support continue to do so in new ways.

“Last year there was so much we couldn’t do, and living in lockdown was difficult and lonely for many of us. For many people with Parkinson’s, their symptoms got worse. This year, we need each other more than ever.

“Taking part in Walk for Parkinson’s in 2021 is a chance to get outside, connect with the Parkinson’s community and make a difference. By walking together, either in person or virtually, we’re not alone.”